LabAutomation 2008 - the best of the rest

By Wai Lang Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Laboratory equipment

LabTechnologist takes a final pick of new and updated equipment
that formed the LabAutomation exhibition's showcase. Much of the
technology featured was shown to the public for the first time.

The exhibition gave a chance for many leading suppliers to show off the latest advancements in lab automation - arguably one of major growth areas in laboratory technology today. The overall lab automation market within Western Europe alone has been estimated to be around $245m in 2005. TTP LabTech took the opportunity to introduce Lab2Lab - a new automated sample transport system for sending individual microtubes between analytical workstations or laboratories. Lab2Lab uses pneumatic technology and a simple network of uPVC tubing to connect a minimum of two stations and transfer samples using a blast of air. Lab2Lab is intended to speed up sample transfer, providing delivery of a single sample tube to a sampling device, then to the analytical hardware, and then to a waste container or collection point. A barcode scanning feature ensures a high degree of accuracy as well as adding an extra layer of security, quickly identifying samples and its location of origin. In addition the system takes a log of sample movements leaving an easily identifiable trail of its journey. Microplate instrumentation and software specialists, BioTek Instruments were out in full force at the show, exhibiting its Synergy 4 Multi-Mode Microplate Reader - the first in a new class of Hybrid Microplate Readers. Synergy 4 is the first multi-mode reader to combine filter-based and monochromator-based fluorescence detection technologies in one instrument for flexibility in microplate-based assays. In addition to fluorescence intensity measurements, Synergy 4's modular design allows detection of Fluorescence Polarization, Time-Resolved Fluorescence, Luminescence, and UV-Visible Absorbance. BioTek also introduce its new MicroFlo Select Dispenser, which offers three interchangeable cassettes in varying sizes to provide solid dispensing performance in volumes from 1 µL to 10 mL. The peristaltic-driven dispensing and custom cassettes provide flexibility in liquid dispensing to many microplate and microtube styles and sizes. LabAutomation regulars and analytical instrumentation specialists Thermo Fisher Scientific used the show to present an extensive range of its laboratory automation equipment, providing a little bit of something for everyone. Its Momentum workflow software is especially suitable for drug discovery and development labs allowing users to define, execute and monitor complex processes in an easy-to-use visual environment. The software essentially eliminates the need for customised data handling as its open topology editor allows the user to specify the design, configuration and operation of their individual system and plug-in different schedulers to support a broad range of processes and workflows. Momentum is also well suited for numerous automation applications including hit picking & inventory management, HTS/HCS screening, automated cell/tissue culture applications, and laboratory workflow management, among many others. The company also featured its KingFisher Flex magnetic particle processor at its booth. Based on the KingFisher 96, the Kingfisher Flex offers increased flexibility and throughput with the incorporation of magnetic heads for both 96 and 24 well plates. The new 24-magnet head enables the high-speed processing of samples from 200 - 5000 µL in 24-well deep well plates, providing 5x the yield with good reproducibility and quality. In combination with 20 - 1000 µL volume range for 96-well plate processing, the Thermo Scientific KingFisher Flex offers scientists automated magnetic particle processing for DNA/RNA, protein or cell purification from virtually any source. Furthermore, the larger combined volume range (20 - 5000 µL) of the KingFisher Flex makes it suitable for clinical and biomedical researchers requiring larger volumes of starting material such as whole blood, as well as for industrial and process laboratories for quality control. Fresh from its recent acquisition of nAscent BioSciences, Thermo Fisher Scientific is in a prime driving position to offer a greater range of differentiated products for drug discovery, particularly in increasingly emerging areas such as nanolitre liquid handling.

Related topics: Contract Manufacturing & Logistics

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